Blog Post

Apple Releases Safari 4

Safari 4

Apple (s aapl) today stripped the beta tag from, and released, Safari 4 into the wild. Safari 4, which has been in beta since February, offers a host of features and enhancements to what Apple claims is the “World’s Fastest Browser.”

Safari 4 features an updated user interface, and numerous under-the-hood enhancements, all of which contribute to a great new browser, built with the user in mind. If you’ve been using Safari 3, this is a fantastic update you’ll definitely want to install immediately. If you’ve been using the Safari 4 beta for the last few months, some changes have been made, and stability has improved. No matter what browser you currently use, Safari 4 is a gorgeous app that puts the content up front and gets out of your way while you surf.

Safari 4 Top Sites
Safari 4 Top Sites

Top Sites

safari4_topsite-pinTop Sites is one of the more notable features, where you can view up to 24 of your most visited sites, via a slick 3D wall of page previews, in one window — making it much easier to get to the sites you visit most.

If you prefer to use Top Sites as your start page, which you can do in the General tab in your Safari preferences, you can “pin” specific pages so they’re always available, no matter how often you visit them. You do this simply by hitting the Edit button at the bottom of the Top Sites page and clicking the little pin icon in the corner of each page thumbnail.

Search

Searching in Safari has seen a few feature updates. You can use the new Search bar, which auto-completes terms, offers suggestions, and displays a list of recent searches for you. Pretty standard stuff. But here’s the cool part: Let’s say you want to search for a site you’ve been to in the past, but can’t remember where it was. Simply visit your Top Sites page and use the Search box at the bottom. Safari will search through your history and display thumbnail previews of the search results via Cover Flow in the browser window — making it much easier to find what you’re looking for. The Cover Flow feature also works with your Bookmarks.

Shortcuts

Apple has added a few options to the Customize Toolbar preferences. You can now add buttons for Top Sites, Bookmarks Bar, Site Information, Email Page and more. To make room for these buttons, Apple has removed the Stop/Reload button and made it part of the URL bar, as seen below.

Safari 4 buttons
Safari 4 buttons

For those who were using Safari 4 beta and didn’t care for the Tabs-On-Top feature, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy when you find the Tab bar has been moved back to its Safari 3 location below the toolbar.

While browsers have had the ability to reduce or enlarge text for a long time, Safari 4 goes one step further by allowing you to zoom an entire page in and out, keeping the content and overall look of the site the way it was intended. Of course, you can also zoom the text only, and support for external style sheets is available, so you can choose your fonts, sizes and colors for all web sites.

A few other nifty features of Safari 4 include inline viewing of PDFs without cumbersome plugins, the ability to “clip” a web page to create a Dashboard Widget of the page, the ability to save images directly into your iPhoto library, and mail the contents of a page (in its full HTML glory) with the click of a button.

Safari 4 Under the Hood

The new JavaScript engine (Nitro) in Safari 4, which boasts speeds four times faster than Firefox 3, four-and-a-half times faster than Safari 3, and eight times faster than Internet Explorer 8, was noticeably improved over previous Safari versions — especially when loading JavaScript-heavy pages such as my iGoogle page.

Page rendering speeds have also been improved by up to three times, according to Apple’s statements. Not having any scientific data to back up my claim, I’ll say that it is fast. Very fast. Considering Safari 4 will run as a 64-bit app under Snow Leopard when it’s released in September, Safari with its Nitro JavaScript engine will be speeding along at a pace that will leave other browsers envious.

Safari 4 also boasts support for HTML 5, for the use of offline technologies, and some pretty cool CSS 3 effects such as animations, fonts and media effects. It’s also the only browser I know of that supports ICC color profiles out of the box, so images appear in the browser as they were intended to.

Of particular interest to web site designers and developers is the ability to invoke Safari 4’s Web Inspector to get a closer look at the underpinnings of a web site. You can view the CSS and HTML code, script and database information, as well as beautiful graphs displaying site statistics, such as image size. As you can see in the screenshot below, somebody really needs to optimize the MacBook Pro image!

Safari 4 Web Inspector
Safari 4 Web Inspector

Firefox, with its plethora of extensions available, has been my browser of choice for a long time. But Safari does offer one thing that Firefox just can’t seem to catch hold-of in Mac OS X — speed! Safari 4 just blows the doors off even Firefox 3.5 beta. And it does offer some customization capability via InputManagers (not supported by Apple, by the way). Overall, if you can live without dozens of extensions for Firefox, Safari is by far the best browser for the Mac.

Safari 4 is available now as a free download for Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later and requires that you install Security Update 2009-002. You can download Safari 4 from Apple’s web site.

83 Responses to “Apple Releases Safari 4”

  1. Nancy Eaglin

    Why is it that every time I open Safari, Apple appears in the address box?
    This is very irritating as I have to take time to erase. This just started about five days ago. I would like this corrected.

  2. I have never had a problem logging into iGoogle with Firefox, so I have no need for a browser such as Safari 4 that can load the page four times faster. Even if Safari 4 is the fastest browser around, it will not grant users access to sites any different from the ones that Firefox or Internet Explorer has access to, because it is merely a browser. Browsers are almost all the same, so forgive me for my lack of enthusiaism.

  3. José María

    Nothing new…
    I want tabs on top, it makes more sense.
    I want the loading bar inside the address bar.
    I’ve installed the beta version, now, with the final release I miss those features. I’m going back to my original browser.

  4. David

    It’s not just the location of the tabs, Tabs on Top-it was easier to combine windows, manage overflow tabs that don’t fit, etc.
    Bring back Tabs on Top!

  5. Vegas Vic

    Don’t upload Safari 4 if you have a clamshell iBook.

    Apple decided not to support 800×600 displays.
    All web pages will show up with no scrollbars and almost impossible to view..

    Wait for Safari 4.01 to see if they decide to support ibooks again.

    If you upgraded to 4, you’ll be just better off installing FireFox instead of trying to get 3 or 4 beta reinstalled. (It’s a pain)

  6. Michael

    I work in IT and have dabbled in all browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, SeaMonkey, Opera, IE) never being able to settle on one. I’ve had a Mac since the original but use a PC at work and was pleased to hear Safari 4 going final.

    My mistake.

    Safari locks up my Windows XP 2.5GHZ PIV with 1GB of RAM almost every 30 -45 minutes. Typically at least 65 % of my memory is free and with only two to three tabs open Safari’s memory usage will jump to almost 200MB. It takes six seconds approx to open a new tab.

    Hopefully they revisit Safari 4.

  7. Having horrifically slow dialup, I so miss the progress bar on the URL bar that indicated about how much longer it would take to load each page. And it seems to take longer to load pages with this new version. As a matter of fact, the new “loading” spinning ball is still spinning, thus still loading this page after 4 minutes. I hope we can get back that progress bar – if just for us non-high speed sufferers out there!

    • El,

      Whoa – dial up. Here’s something you may want to look at – Opera 10 (currently in BETA, I believe). It has a feature called TURBO that uses a proxy server to compress graphics and offer significantly reduced download times. Seriously, it’s a great feature – I’ve tested it on a dial-up connection.

      Sure, you’re going to sacrifice the native Mac feel of Safari, but I think you’ll find, from a pragmatic viewpoint, you’re saving yourself a lot of time. You can read about it here:

      http://www.opera.com/browser/next/

      Highest regards.

  8. All i really want is the old mac-like interface back. The loading inside the address bar and the way it changed the font of pages were my favorite parts. I never really liked TOT, but I bet if it had the mac-interface combined with it it would be pretty awesome. This is what I get for using Windows. So for now, Im sticking with good-old Safari 3. Looking at all the complaints, I dont plan on trying Safari 4 out, anytime soon.

    To make it short: Safari has been ruined…

  9. newMac

    I love the new Safari, no probs, but I did get a new MacBook only 2 weeks ago, so that might be eliminating any conflicts. However, I do not like that past searches come up every time you begin to type in the address bar. For people or families that share computers it feels invasive. I realize you can empty the history, but usually I like to keep it for a week or too, just not see it every time I type a web address. Any suggestions?

  10. Allister

    I also contend that Safari is not faster than Firefox. Sure it may render some benchmark page faster, but I find it beachballs rather a lot more than Safari. The overall experience is about the same speed.

  11. Allister

    Never mind the tabs, what about all the other issues, many from Safari 3. I bet none of them are fixed.

    The page doesn’t blank when a new tab is launched from a link. You can’t pause and restart downloads. The tab bar doesn’t scroll. “Open links in new tabs” is not possible *within* Safari. Closing a tab doesn’t return you to the tab you launched it from. Cut and paste of page content into a rich text editor strips all the HTML. You can’t remove individual entries from remembered text fields. It renders spaces at the start of a line when there is a double space in the source.

    • Michael

      Allister

      The page doesn’t blank when a new tab is launched from a link. (yes it does)

      The tab bar doesn’t scroll. (yes it does use cntrl tab)

      Open links in new tabs” is not possible *within* Safari. (yes it is)